Mathura's Hindu art opens with two deities performing a gesture I have named “the self-coronation gesture”; it has no antecedents in Indian art or texts. Śiva and the Warrior Goddess (possibly developing into Mahisāsuramardinī) bestow upon themselves an honorific crowning object, the floral garland. Wherefrom came this particular gesture? The paper assigns the gesture's origin to the Greek Olympian. From this source a progression is traced eastward, to ancient Bactria, then Gandhāra, finally to Mathura during the Kushan Age. The progression reveals an evolutionary iconographic process going from Western heroes, especially Heracles, to Eastern heroes, especially Vīras, from solid crowns to pliant wreaths, from one hand to two arms needed to make the gesture. The meaning also evolves: the gesture no longer has the Olympian connotation but continues to suggest a sublime triumph. Reading the way my original nomenclature had been applied by others, the paper comments on their feasibility, especially a problematic Kushan/post-Kushan interpretation of Mahisāsuramardinī executing the gesture. Iconographic gaps remain. Needed is further input from the Northwest on the gesture, the source of the Warrior Goddess, and the degree of intermingling between local, Northern cults with early Hinduism.

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